Introduction: Roof Snow Removal Tool

About: My wife and I are the proud parents of 6 wonderful children who are now married and raising families of their own. I am a recent cancer survivor(leukemia). I enjoy sharing ideas that bless peoples lives.


Salt Lake City, UT received over 4 feet of snow during the first 10 days in 1993. Residents were out in mass, shoveling the heavy accumulations of snow from roofs, in anticipation of more storms to come. In many cases, the danger of falling from slippery roofs proved to be greater than the risk of collapsing roofs.

By January 10th, fall injuries had flooded emergency rooms. The Salt Lake Tribune warned Clearing Snow From Roofs Is Pitched With Dangers.

This snow removal tool is a product of that crisis. It was developed to provide a way for removing roof snow without having to climb on the roof.

KSL Television spotlighted this tool on the 10:00 PM news on January 10th. The newscast was followed up by a news article in the Deseret News on January 12th, which gave brief instructions on how to construct the snow removal tool.

Subsequent articles by the Deseret News during the next few days made the following observations:

Impressed by a roof-clearing contraption invented by a local man using PVC pipe, Salt Lake officials have begun building and lending the devices to residents.

Salt Lake Mayor DeeDee Corradini said..her..staff had made 30 of the snow removers and were planning to make up to 60 more. People are starting to make these all over town, Corradini said, They really do work very well.

Thompson didnt just cast worried glances at his roof. He whipped up a gadget that looked a little like something from outer space. It cleans a roof lickety-split without the home owner endangering life and limb by climbing up icy shingles. The invention caused a run on PVC pipe at local home-maintenance stores.

By week's end stories about how to remove roof snow safely were a staple in all media. A recurrent piece was on how easy it was to use a plastic pipe contraption. Deseret News followed up on television reports of how a householder created such a device for under $20.

This roof snow removal tool may take you a couple of hours to build. It may spend years in idle storage. But, when you need it, you are really going to need it and so will your neighbors. Share the tool around. All it takes is a little duct tape and plastic sheeting to make it as good as new and allow you to be prepared in time of need.



(Quantity) Item *All PVC pipe and fittings are Schedule 40, slip
(6) 10' sections of 1" PVC pipe*

(1) 1/2" rigid copper pipe, 18 1/2" long

(2) 1/4" diameter steel rods, 18" long

(2) PVC tees*, 1" x 1" x 3/4"

(1) 3/4" PVC pipe, approximately 16 1/4" long

(2) 1" PVC elbows*

(1) 1/4" dia. steel rod, about 21" long (Cut finish length in step 20)

(1) Flat piece for front foil, 2 1/4" wide by 16"long, made of 1/8"
Plexiglas, sheet metal, masonite, or other durable material

(1) 10' length of plastic sheeting 18" wide to use as an apron for snow
to slide on. May need to be longer, depending on length and pitch
of roof. Flat poly sheeting, about the thickness of contractor
garbage bags (3 to 4 mils), works well.

(4) 1" PVC connectors*

(6) #6 pan head screws, 1/2" in length (Phillips are easiest to install)

(1) Silicone glue (small amount)

(1) PVC glue (small can is sufficient)

(1) Roll of duct tape (You can never have too much)

Hack saw (A pipe cutter can be used instead, on pipe cuts)
Electric drill (Drill press preferred)
5/8" wood bit
1/4" drill bit
1/16" drill bit

Step 1:

Cut two short 1" PVC pipes 3-1/2" long.

Mark the 1" pipes with an "A" on one end and a "B" on the other end.

Mark an "X" on both 1" pipes at a distance 1-1/2" from the "B" ends.

Step 2:

Drill 5/8" holes through one side only of each of the two precut 1" pipes, at the points located by the "Xs". Use a vise to hold pipe while drilling.

Step 3:

Cut a 18-1/2"long piece of 1/2" rigid copper pipe to use as a support pipe. If cut with a hacksaw, slightly round the ends with a file to make them easier to insert.

Press the 1"PVC pipes onto the ends of the copper pipe.

Step 4:

Place the assembly flat on the table, with both "A" ends facing the same direction.

Mark an "X" on the top of both 1" pipes in the assembly, directly above the inserted copper pipe.

Step 5:

Drill 1/4" holes at the "Xs", passing straight down through the top side of the PVC pipes and both sides of the copper pipe. Do not drill through the bottom side of the PVC pipe.

Step 6:

Cut two 1/4" steel rods 18" long. Slightly round both ends of the rods with a file.

Push the rods through the 1/4" holes drilled in step #5. This should be a tight fit that holds the rods firmly in place. If the rods are too loose, glue them in place with silicone glue.

Step 7:

Temporarily place the 1"x 1"x 3/4" PVC tees on the "B" ends of the assembly. Do not glue. Turn the position of the 3/4" openings to face each other. Cut a 3/4" PVC pipe at the correct length to connect the two tees.(Approximately 16 1/4" long)

Step 8:

Remove the tees from the assembly. Temporarily place the tees on the ends of the 3/4" pipe. Do not glue. Verify that the position of the tees matches the "B" ends of the assembly.

Step 9:

Remove the tees. Glue the tees onto the 3/4" pipe in the position determined in the previous step.

Glue the tees onto the "B" ends of the assembly.

Mark an "A" on one end of both 1" elbows. Mark an "X" on the side of each elbow, at a point 1" from the "A" end and 1/4" down from the center line of the elbow.

Step 10:

Drill 1/4" holes straight down through both sides of the elbows, at the points indicated by the "Xs". Hold the fitting with a vise to prevent the drill bit from drifting from position during drilling.

Step 11:

Push the 1/4" rod through both sides of one of the elbows. Position the rod so it is flush with the outside edge of the elbow.

Step 12:

Push the other end of the 1/4" rod through the remaining elbow. Align the elbow to the assembly by adjusting the position of the second elbow. Glue the "A" ends of the elbows onto the "A" ends of the assembly. The open ends of the elbows should be turned up.

Step 13:

Cut the 1/4" rod flush with the outside edge of the elbow. Slightly round the ends of the rod with a file to remove any sharp edges.

Use duct tape to secure the 2 1/2" flat piece to form a foil on the front of the assembly between the front rod and the 1/2" copper pipe.

Step 14:

Close off the open ends of the elbows with duct tape.

Step 15:

Install a 1" PVC pipe section on each of the two open ends of the assembly, as handles. Do not glue. Mark the fittings with reference points for reassembly. Drill 1/16" screw holes down through at the top side of the fitting/pipe connections. Turn the screws all the way in to avoid snags.

Step 16:

Cut a plastic apron strip 18" wide by 12' long or longer, depending on length of roof. Drape the end of the plastic strip over the top of the 3/4" pipe.

Step 17:

Duct tape the folded-over edge of the plastic strip to the top side of the plastic apron. Do not put tape on the bottom side of the apron.

Step 18:

Add additional handle sections as needed. Do not glue. Use duct tape to secure the PVC connects to the pipe to allow for disassembly.

For storage, remove handles and roll up plastic apron around assembly head. To protect the plastic apron, do not store in an area with direct sunlight exposure.



This tool is designed to slide under the snow, cutting a 16" wide path as it is pushed up the roof. The slanted edge of the foil keeps the tool down against the roof while the curved edge of the elbows helps the tool slide smoothly over the roof surface. During use, check the tool to make certain there are no protruding or broken parts that can cause damage to shingles.

The operator needs to be in a position that allows the tool to remain parallel to the roof. This can be accomplished, in many cases, with the use of an A frame step ladder. The ladder needs to be on firm footing and ladder manufacturer instructions should be carefully followed. Unsafe ladder usage can be just as dangerous as a slippery roof.

The tool is not designed to cut ice. It is designed to bend or break if it is forced against something stronger than moderately packed snow. It is easier to straighten a 1/4" rod and add a little duct tape than it is to replace a broken vent pipe.

As the tool is pushed up the roof, blocks of snow break loose and slide off the roof. The operator can slow down the speed of the blocks by moving the two handles closer together. The operator needs to be supported in such a way to not lose balance when the sliding snow hits the ladder or the operator.

The operator can control the direction of the cut by the movement of the handles. By pushing harder on one handle than the other, the tool can be moved diagonally on the roof. This is particularly helpful with vent pipes and valleys.


Do not use the tool around power lines. A wet pipe can conduct electricity.

Do not use the tool without the help of an able assistant.

Do not force the tool. If one area does not cut and slide easily, work around it.

Do not attempt to clean 2nd story or flat roofs with this tool.

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